The historic races were first held during the 1890s but faded away following the advent of the automobile at the turn of the century. Commencing in front of the McKean County Courthouse on US Route 6, the cyclists today follow the same scenic route as the cyclists of the 1890s.
Resurrected again five years ago by the Smethport Lions Club, the event attracts some of the best riders from throughout the United States, Canada and internationally.
The modern version of the race features the 53 Mile 7 Circuit Classic race and the 15 mile 2 Circuit Fun Race.
Much of the entire town gets involved. Over 60 citizens serve as corner marshals throughout the 7 mile race course and the Smethport Fire Police and the Smethport Police and County Sheriff lent a hand.
Chief corporate sponsors of the events are Hamlin Bank and Trust Company, Northwest Savings Bank and Olean based Worth W. Smith, Inc Extreme Hardware Stores.
Vying for prizes funded by local businesses, participants race to capture the coveted Gold Watches for both men and women. The watches were prizes in races held in Smethport between 1892 and 1899 in the village.
The 2008 gold watch prize was photo-finish winner in the men’s division was 19 year old Cheyne Hoag of Dansville, NY in the Men’s Division with a time of 2:07.09. Jason Zimmerman, 39, of Latrobe, PA was only a split second behind Cheyne with a time of 2:07:09.7.
For the second year in a row Female Division Gold Watch winner was Jillian Behm of Erie with a time of 2:08:37.3. Jillian cut a full 10 minutes off her winning 2007 time. Runner-up in the Female division was Pamela Gass of Williamsport with a 53 mile time of 2:08:42.2. Pamela won the Female Gold Watch in both 2005 and 2006.